No one on TV has better coats than Olivia Pope ("Scandal"). Here's a buttery cashmere wrap coat ($3,425) over stretch pants ($395) and a silk blouse with a ruffle at the neck ($775), all from Armani. Tempering the softness are suede Christian Louboutin ankle booties ($1,095). 

MARVIN JOSEPH | Washington Post

As summer winds down to its final simmer, we’re focusing on our fall back-to-work wardrobe. For inspiration, we looked to well-dressed characters from the popular TV shows “House of Cards,” “The Good Wife” and “Scandal.” What would Claire Underwood, Kalinda Sharma and Olivia Pope wear? To deconstruct the individual style of these powerful women, we headed for a downtown Washington executive suite, where our models could pose in the best new clothing picks for autumn.

By the way, actress Kerry Washington, who plays Olivia, and “Scandal” costume designer Lyn Paolo have partnered with The Limited for a collection mining the crisis management expert’s style. It will hit stores in late September.

The looks

The Claire Underwood look is captured in a Victoria Beckham cap-sleeve sheath ($1,795, Neiman Marcus in Washington), and for the exercise-obsessed Mrs. Underwood, a Tory Burch for Fitbit metal hinged bracelet ($195, pre-order from; Fitbit Flex with tracker is sold separately). Or: Claire could show off her sculpted curves in a tailored Victoria Beckham double-knit ponte sheath with two-way zipper at the back ($1,895, Neiman Marcus in Washington) that can take her from tactical daytime meetings to after-six scheming cocktails and dinners.

Channel fictional “fixer” Olivia Pope in a tailored Erdem top with a rich floral brocade and contrasting navy collar ($1,135, at and a Jil Sander demure knee-length A-line skirt in midnight blue ($890, from Neiman Marcus in Washington).

No one on TV has better coats than Olivia Pope. We suggest a buttery cashmere wrap coat from Armani ($3,425) over stretch pants ($395) and a silk blouse with a ruffle at the neck ($775), both also from Armani. All priced at Neiman Marcus in Washington. Tempering the softness are suede Christian Louboutin ankle booties ($1,095,

Kalinda Sharma, Lockhart/Gardner’s mysterious in-house investigator on “The Good Wife,” morphs from sophisticated politico to downtown, edgy investigator in a Veronica Beard peplum motorcycle jacket with stretch knit panels under the sleeves and in the bodice ($1,295, over Colette ribbed knit dress ($250) and Kerr boots with zip closure at back ($595), both at Rag & Bone stores or For another take on Kalinda’s signature leather jacket, try one by Billy Reid ( over a Torn by Ronny Kobo V-neck top ($238, and Copley boucle skirt .

Working women need functional and good-looking totes. Olivia is known for her large, pale-colored handbags. Tom Ford’s portfolio bag ($1,990 at isn’t in a light hue, but it sends the “I mean business” message. Designer Annabel Ingall’s champagne-colored satchel ($450, will fill the bill, and gives a lift to a black dress.

Janet Kelly is editor of, a Washington-based women’s-eye view of fashion, design and culture. See a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion photo session and other fashion ideas at

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